Legal Advice and Funding

Legal Advice and Funding

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Legal Advice and Funding

Michelle wants to claim compensation for the injuries she has suffered
in an accident. Identify and briefly describe where she could obtain
advice about a possible claim.

There are many places that offer advice regarding British law but few
people know how to access these services. If Michelle looks in the
right places she can obtain this legal advice for free. There are
places that are funded by charities and there's also places like the
Citizens Advice Bureau which is primarily funded by the government.

If you were setting out to obtain legal advice, places like these is
where you should start, they aim to provide access to justice to
everyone who needs it.

The CAB has over 2000 bureaux throughout the country. Volunteers that
aren't actually legally qualified provide 'free, independent and
confidential advice' on a variety of issues. They have arrangements
with solicitors who will give a free initial interview. Five million
people use this service every year.

Another place for free advice is a law centre. There are only 51 law
centres in the country (as of April 2003) and they are normally
situated in socially deprived areas. Law centres provide free and
independent, professional, legal advice as it is required in the area.
They are staffed by solicitors, barristers, legal advisors and
community workers who are paid and the funding for these salaries
comes from local authorities and the Community Legal Service Fund.
Some law centres will be better than others a factor that affects this
is the demand for legal advice in the area. If Michelle went to a Law
Centre she could expect to receive advice on issues like welfare
rights, immigration, housing, employment, discrimination, mental
health, juvenile crime, disability and children's rights.

Another place which is probably overlooked quite a lot is
organisations like the AA and R.A.C. However organisations like this
will probably only help you with issues which relate to the
organisations area of business. Also you must be a paying member to

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receive this advice.

A similar one to the last option is trade unions which again will
probably only help you with matters involving employment and again you
will have to be a member.

The consumers association give advice on consumer issues and you can
obtain advice from libraries, television and radio but this is just
general advice and probably won't be specific to your case.

The internet is another place for general advice but the only concern
is you don't know how reliable/up to date the information actually is.
Although now there is official sites which you can trust to update
information regularly. One such place is the Legal Community Service (www.justask.org.uk).

Some charities like 'Mind' and 'Age concern' give advice to.

If you're still finding it hard to seek advice you may be able to get
a pro bono scheme if your case is a particularly deserving one. This
where a barrister offers his services free of charge because he feels
sorry for you.

If all else fails then you are probably going to have to pay for your
advice directly from a solicitor or legal firm but I expect this can
be expensive. Thanks to the Access to Justice Act 1999 you may be able
to get funding for this if you pass the means test.

As I have stated above there is many places to get legal advice most
of these places are free because the government feels that everybody
has a right to advice on the legal system and everybody has a right of
access to justice.

Outline what is meant by a conditional fee arrangement. Comment on the
advantages and disadvantages of no win no fee deals.

A conditional fee arrangement is basically an agreement between a
client and a solicitor. This agreement states that if the clients case
is lost in court then he will not have to pay the solicitors fees.
However if the client wins, then he has to pay a significant amount of
his compensation to the solicitor.

This way of obtaining legal representation is particularly useful for
people who do not qualify for public funding but still can't afford
the enormous court costs that result in a case.

These conditional fee arrangements were first allowed under the Courts
and Legal Services Act 1990.Changes have been made to this which has
encouraged use of CFA's and they are now a significant part of private
funding.

The advantages of this scheme are that the more people who use it, the
less of taxpayers money is spent on funding cases. It attracts people
because there is not the threat of having to pay large legal fees.
Also it is probably quicker because there is not the delay of being
means tested etc. The solicitor will probably try harder as well
because he knows that if he loses he isn't going to get any money!

There are also disadvantages of this scheme like your case may be
refused by solicitors because they don't see it as a probable win.

If you lose the case you still have to pay the costs of the winning
party there fore you need to take out insurance. These insurance
premiums may cost you more than the actual case is worth! Solicitors
prefer to know they have definitely won a case so may try to push you
into settling an out of court agreement.

It has also been argued that the CFA encourages 'ambulance chasing'
which at present is making a mockery of our law system.

If you can't get public funding and you can't afford to go private
then this is a good way of obtaining legal representation but if you
can afford it, it would be better to pay for it as it works out
cheaper in the long run.
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